Balance disorders and dizziness, often caused by inner ear issues, may soon be diagnosed and treated with an MRI magnet.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered in 2011 that an MRI’s magnetic field has a strong pull on the fluid in the inner ear. Build up of fluid in the inner ear can cause dizziness, jerky eye movements, and balance disorders such as Vertigo.
Because of the effect MRI magnets can have on the fluid in the inner ear, researchers are hopeful that they can soon use that “pull” to effectively diagnose and treat inner ear conditions by influencing the pressure and fluids in the inner ear.
Since current testing for inner ear issues can be invasive and uncomfortable, this is good news for sufferers of these conditions.
What Causes Balance Disorders?
It is estimated that 40% of adults will experience at least one episode of dizziness or imbalance severe enough to visit a doctor during a lifetime. A balance disorder may be accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, spinning, or feelings of vertigo. They may also feel faint or lightheaded, become disoriented, confused, or have blurred vision.
- Balance disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including certain medications, issues with the brain or inner ear, or a traumatic head injury.
- If you begin to feel dizzy and have several episodes, check with your primary care doctor. That doctor may then refer you to a specialist or audiologist for balance testing to further determine the cause of your symptoms.
Tests that may be performed by the specialist or audiologists include:
- Rotation tests to see how well the inner ear and the eyes work together
- Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) to measure balance function and motor control in varying environments.
- MRI or CT scans
- Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) can determine if the inner ear’s sensory cells and vestibular nerve are whole and correctly functioning.
- Electronystagmography (ENT) is a sequence of tests that check involuntary eye movements—this can include recording eye movements as they follow a target and how eyes react to temperature changes near the ear canal.
Hearing tests may also be done to conclude if there is hearing impairment to accompany the dizziness.
If you suspect you have a balance disorder or have been feeling unusually dizzy with multiple episodes, see your doctor or audiologist to see what can be done to remedy the underlying issue.
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